Sister Cities • 25 December 2009

I’m listening to a fast-moving freight train that slices Marfa from the surrounding deserts. The others have gone out drinking; and I am in this spare, modern house trying to calm down since I’ve been awake for 20 hours. Everyone keeps saying it’s cold: temperatures vary from the sixties down to the teens within a December day in “far west Texas.” I watch them shiver and wonder if I’ll ever get the temperature machismo I’ve observed up north: this suspicion that only a person of weak character fees cold in the winter.

It is so quiet here; and the stars are the brightest I’ve seen in a while. We just had a three hour gourmet dinner in a red-walled restaurant full of the kindest people with the best taste. Insiders who spend so much energy guarding the boundary of art/not art when they’re out in LA or New York can let down their guard here: if you know about this place and have done the work to trek out here and are casual with the people holding house parties, then you don’t need to be further tested. Mysore has a bit of that; and for the community and creative renewal it brings him, Marfa is my brother’s Mysore.

From the dark dirt street, on the other side of the 8-foot concrete walls, the house is dusty and abandoned – whiskey bottles on patio furniture and a naked light bulb over the door. But oh, those are Maker’s Mark bottles; and the porch rockers are a little too sleek for a lonely ranch house; and the light is actually a giant-sized, hand-blown stylization of a naked patio bulb. Inside, this house has worn-in (but not worn out) wood and concrete floors: distressed in the way that certain excellent jeans come broken in: strategically grooved in to a comfortable everyday fit with the body. There are candles burning—the kinds of candles you buy in museum gift shops.

One of the living rooms has been converted to a performance space. I’m sitting here with a mut so beautiful that I wonder if she was bred to look like a mix. My brother is off at a house party: bars close at midnight in this town, so that’s how the population of avant garde artists rolls through the night. Tomorrow, while he and his friends sleep, a cold morning walk around the tiny civilization here, then practice, then play, then the drive.

Ashtanga Yoga Marfa